In recent days, behind the Walker-Wisconsin victory and behind the Obama-Mitt race lies a continuously divisive issue: The War on Women. In that liberal named “war” is the Paycheck Fairness Act.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is “legislation being considered by the United States Congress to expand the scope of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act as part of an effort to address male–female income disparity in the United States.” The bill has failed twice before.
Senator Barbara A. Mikulski claims that women make “77 cents for every dollar that a man makes with the same education doing the same job. That’s 23 percent less”. (Thak you for the math, Senator. Maybe you should check your own: According to CNN, Mikulski pays her own female staffers 27% less than male staffers.) And does this account for geographical location, work experience, work experience in the field, hours worked weekly, etc.?? Also, if this were true, if women could be paid only 70-80% of what men are paid, and this was truly a pay-driven issue, don’t you think the greedy, money-hungry business owners would fire all men and replace them with “cheaper” women?
As a provable female, I feel that I can criticize this legislation, unlike a man who would be shamed as “attacking the female population”. When the Senate GOP blocked the bill on Tuesday, it was another War on Women accusation. I say no. This is a War on Freedom of Choices.
So let’s explore a few of the undiscussed and unexplained repercussions of this legislation that lead me to think this way:
1.) Fewer women will be hired. If you regulate so much and make it difficult to hire women, companies just won’t. Same logic as the health care mandate. Companies will pay the fine instead of provide insurance because it will cost less. Also, now you can seek punitive damages. Companies aren’t going to want to take the risk and hire someone who can easily file a lawsuit with simply a suspicion of inequality.
2.) You are in essence creating a minimum wage for positions at companies. This meddles in what is the responsibility of private companies and private firms.
3.) I think maternity leave is a wonderfully generous thing. Motherhood is certainly not easy but you are given 6 weeks and a guaranteed job when you return. No matter how spin it, you are granted special treatment because you are raising children. Men don’t have this luxury. Should we equalize this as well and allow them to work from home during their son’s football season?
4.) I would consider “same education” to be same degree fom the same school during the same time. Not a Bachelors in Business Administration versus a Bachelors in Women’s Studies. Those are not comparable. I would also consider “the same job” to NOT mean one person who is training level and one who holds 10 years experience. I’m not sure we are comparing apples to apples. And finally, would you consider the “same job” to be a lawyer who settles 15 cases in a quarter compared to a lawyer who settles 55 cases in a quarter. I would not.
5.) Who says equal pay will be an increase? What if male salaries were decreased in order to accommodate such legislation? You’re still making ‘less’ and now your husband is, too!
6.) Finally, facts say it ain’t true. Single, childless women between 22 and 30 earn 8% more than men and unmarried college-educated males between 40-64 earn almost 15% less than their femal counterparts.
I was under the impression that women wanted EQUAL treatment, not SPECIAL treatment. Why do you want a pay increase BECAUSE you are a woman? Don’t you want a pay raise because you are qualified, have proven yourself and have earned it? And it’s not equal WORK, but equal PRODUCTION. I don’t follow the logic. How is this any better than Affirmative Action? We see how well THAT worked out. When will people wake up that you cannot just regulate everything you don’t like?
I’ll close with my daily WTF Question to President Obama: Have you looked at wage discrepancies in the White House? 🙂
The Paycheck Fairness Act is actually better than it seems, largely because it does not do so much to specifically try and “fix” gender income disparity as it does create a more open environment for employees to challenge employers in income disputes.
First, let me say that a lot of the points on why the gender gap isn’t quite as it seems are true. The Washington Post has a pretty detailed description of why the 77 cents on the dollar number isn’t quite right (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/the-white-houses-use-of-data-on-the-gender-wage-gap/2012/06/04/gJQAYH6nEV_blog.html). While 91 cents on the dollar still isn’t ideal, when you’re looking at this kind of broad generalization, that’s closer to statistical noise than systemic discrimination.
That said, the bill is more about providing a clearer standard of discrimination and protecting employees who challenge employers in court. From my reading, it does the following:
1. Require a “bona fide reason other than sex, such as education, training, or experience” for a pay disparity.
2. Give legal protection to those who bring or testify in wage discrimination cases, and to those who disclose wages to coworkers.
3. Create negotiation training for girls and women.
4. Further research pay discrepancy trends.
Of these points, I wish they explicity listed job performance as a “bona fide reason,” though it is fairly strongly implied, and I think the negotiation training provision is pretty tangential to the rest of the bill. Depending on how much that costs, I could see that being an issue.
You could also argue that we could overwhelm the legal system by reducing the barriers to entry for wage discrimination complaints, but I think this is balanced out by offering explicit standards (education, training, experience) for dismissing a wage discrimination complaint where it had previously been nebulous.
As for your more specific points, because I can’t resist an opportunity to make a wall of text:
1. This would be employment discrimination. If companies are specifically not hiring people because they are women, we need to consider ways to prevent that discrimination, not allow wage discrimination because it’s the lesser evil.
2. While this does require that similar employees receive a similar wage, thus creating a “minimum,” that number is still established by the company. If company B pays all it’s workers less than company A, company B is still fine to do that if they think they can still employ competitively.
3. I’m assuming you were being sarcastic, but paternity leave is actually pretty common anymore. I think that’s a much more equitable solution than penalizing women for the possibility that they may get pregnant at some point during their tenure.
4. Absolutely true, and in my opinion, the bill actually does more to help define what the “same job” is.
5. Without some form of collusion by most of the companies in an industry, this won’t happen, simply because the employees receiving a pay cut will fly out the door and leave a swath of terrible PR in their wake. Also, it’s not like companies are paying men more than what their job is “worth” right now – that would be a terrible business practice. If there is a pay disparity, it’s creating an inefficiency in the system in favor of the employer. Dropping wages would further that disparity, leaving the door open for a company to get the best workers by paying them what they are “worth,” rather than the arbitrarily set lower wage. In the long-term, the market will solve.
6. Agreed, trying to paint this as a systemic problem isn’t really fair. Still, I think it is worthwhile to make it easier for employees to seek recourse when wage discrimination is a problem, and this bill can do that without creating too many negative exegencies.
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